A year ago, Hays High girls soccer head coach Brent Holcomb helmed a team brimming with seniority.
Fast-forward 12 months and a young roster now dominates the landscape.
For Holcomb, working to develop a young Lady Rebel squad is the goal as they enter the 2017 campaign.
Leading the way for Hays are seniors Isa Hernandez, Maya Hood and Nicole Lewis.
Hernandez is a “standout” starting attacking midfielder for the last two years, Holcomb said, while Lewis returns to the Lady Rebel roster after being away for a year. Hood, who is a forward, earned second-team all district honors last season.
One of the key qualities all three exhibit is their ability to be “excellent people,” Holcomb said. They also have experience and can “deal with problems and drama.”
“They are respected by their peers,” Holcomb said.
Aiding the three seniors is a “tight knit” group of sophomore midfielders, Holcomb said. Having a strong midfield is key, as they are “the transition, they’re the linking group,” he added.
While having youth may mean the team could do some things differently with their scheme in the midfield, Holcomb said the team plans to play to their strengths.
“We’re a possession team and that’s not going to change,” Holcomb said. “For whatever reason, that’s how it works. We possess the ball well, but we don’t always put it in the rectangle.”
One challenge Hays will face is entering a new district that features several perennial soccer powerhouses.
Vista Ridge, which enters the 6A ranks this year, finished as state semifinalists in Class 5A in 2015. Vandegrift, also new to 6A, finished as regional finalists in 5A.
Hays will also compete against familiar foes in Westlake, which went through a coaching change in the offseason, along with Lake Travis and rival Lehman.
Holcomb said assessing the change from a senior-laden group to a young team is different due to the competition base they now face, Holcomb said. But with youth also brings progression, both now and in the future.
Hays successfully put its skills to the test last weekend by claiming 4th place at the Brazos Valley Cup soccer tournament in Bryan/College Station.
“It’s kind of hard to tell when you’re changing districts, how would this group stand up,” Holcomb said. “They’re skilled players. They’re young and they’re skilled. I look to the next three years in a lot of cases.”